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Ashley Braun's Posts

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Converting astronaut poop to space power — the final frontier?

Yeah, I know you don't have to do #2 right now, dude. But the space ship robots say we're low on fuel, so ...Photo: LIFE/James Vaughan Astronauts live pretty bizarre lives: chillin' in zero gravity, drinking Tang, and having their poop freeze-dried and now possibly eaten by bacteria to generate electricity. At least that's part of the 2011 space odyssey for the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which is launching a $5 million satellite in the first half of 2011 to figure out the feasibility of this space oddity. The satellite will be carrying a crapload payload …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Saving the world's future food supply is key to climate adaptation, says Cary 'Dr. Doom' Fowler

Global Crop Diversity Trust Executive Director Cary Fowler poses with the Svalbard "Doomsday" Seed Vault. Also, is that an ice sculpture of a polar bear?Photo: Mari Tefre/Global Crop Diversity Trust "People think I must be 'Dr. Doom,'" Cary Fowler told the audience for the University of Washington's sixth lecture on food and the environment. Tall and soft-spoken, Fowler makes an unlikely Dr. Doom. As executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, he's devoted to the preservation of genetic variety in the world's food crops, and has an obvious passion for the incredible variety of life. His melodramatic nickname comes …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Food

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Bras give energy efficiency a sexy boost in Italy

For Italian ladies wanting to shrink their waste and support their busts, Italian lingerie company Intimissimi is offering to pay them to rack up environmental cred by recycling their old bras. Until the end of November, women can exchange worn-out over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders for three euros (four dollars) of credit toward a new bra. The program is like Cash for Clunkers, but sexier. (And hopefully less clunky for the planet.) Once the bras are done padding women's busts, they'll go on to pad the walls of their pads as soundproof insulating panels. Energy efficiency and bra recycling? Sounds like the perfect fit, …

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A turkey virgin gobbles for help!

Two and a half years ago I went nearly cold turkey on a Lenten dare to give up meat for 40 days. Much to my surprise, I learned to love being a vegetarian and have mostly eschewed chewing the animal fat ever since. The reason I spurred myself to become vegetarian, however, was because of the industrial treatment of meat in today's broken globalized food system. I credit Tom Philpott's reporting: I loved steak and pepperoni pizza, but I found I hated the stinking waste lagoons; the degradation of air, water, and land; and the chemical-inflated livestock even more. My …

Read more: Food, Living

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Canned unicorn meat finally horns its way into the meat market

"Crunchy horn bits in every bite!"Photo: ThinkGeek Remember the sloppy public relations job the National Pork Board did in response to canned unicorn, "the new white meat"? Well, this prodded ThinkGeek, the original purveyers of premium Canned Unicorn Meat, to keep hamming up this protein-rich pretend product and release the "real" deal, just in time for Thanksgiving! Straight from the loving, rainbow-smeared hands of the Sisters at Radiant Farms come six sparkly cuts of sustainably raised and slaughtered unicorn meat. While Ireland isn't so much local for us Americans, we can rest assured that there is "magic in every bite," …

Read more: Food, Living

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Plastic bag rap urges people to jump on the ban-wagon [VIDEO]

You probably never thought there'd be a rap song trashing single-use plastic bags. Then again, you probably didn't see the organic dairy rap or the energy audit pop song coming either. This parody of Jay-Z's hip hop anthem to New York ("Empire State of Mind") is aimed at giving plastic bags a bad rap and getting grocery-cart pushers to push their reps to jump on the ban-wagon like Los Angeles recently did. Let us know if you like the way they work it and try to bag it, bag it up. Or if you no diggity. Via elephant journal. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- …

Read more: Living

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Looking at meat drives men into a fit of calmness, happiness

Insert inappropriate joke about guys playing with their sausages here.Photo: Monica Meat -- it's what for dinner. Maybe it should also be what's for therapy, at least for mad men. Psychology researchers at McGill University in Canada recently steaked the claim that the sight of a big, juicy burger and other well-done meats soothes the savage and beastly instincts in men. Anger management issues? No problem, dude, have some bacon. Here's how the psychologists figured it out: The research was conducted with 82 male subjects who were asked to inflict varying degrees of punishment on actors if they made errors …

Read more: Food, Living

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Did Sarah Palin's new nature reality show get too close to the wildlife? [VIDEO]

We know you tried to block it out of your memory, but the internet is here to remind you anyway: Discovery Communications is launching its "documentary series about the remarkable Governor Palin and her home state of Alaska." A preview episode of Sarah Palin's Alaska aired Sunday night on TLC, apparently full of the former Alaska governor showing off how she and the fam can do the outdoorsy thing: hiking on glaciers! fishing with bears! shooting wolves!* (*censored by the FCC). And of course preaching "respect for the elements."  We can hardly bear to watch Sarah Palin's Alaska.However, the self-styled …

Read more: Living

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Americans need to stop multitasking while eating alone, argues French sociologist Claude Fischler

Dinner as usual?Photo: Matt DeTurck Put down that sandwich. Or if you're not eating right now, tell the truth: How many crumbs are lodged in your keyboard from previous meals wolfed in front of your monitor? It's OK. You're not alone in eating alone -- at least in America. It's what most of us do: in front of our computers and televisions, or in our cars. But as the preëminent French food sociologist Claude Fischler explained in the fifth lecture of the University of Washington's food and environment series recently, we represent one extreme end of the social-eating spectrum, and …

Read more: Food, Living

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Paint-and-seed grenade-launcher aims to bomb the blight out of America

Bomb the Blight artist Tommy Wilson: Ready, aim, inspire!Photo: Bomb the Blight Roving bands of hopeful Americans are improving the places they live by means of guerrilla warfare: painting bike lane art, planting tulips, and setting up street cafés. It's community activism for the impatient, and Memphis artist and photographer Tommy Wilson is the latest to join the ranks of those pimping the pavement. Founder of the brand-new project Bomb the Blight, Wilson is stocking his arsenal (aka his air cannon) with modified "seed bombs": biodegradable balloons pumped with plant-based paint, native wildflower seeds, fertilizer, organic matter, and a splash …

Read more: Cities, Living